“I’m wearing my new shoes today, the ones I wore when I was searching in the mountains. I had a hard time even looking at these shoes, so I kept them in a box, but then I thought, ‘I will find them no matter what. Everyone, please continue to help us until we find them.”
September 21 marks two years since Misaki Ogura, 9, a first grader living in Narita City, Chiba Prefecture, went missing from a campsite in Doshi Village, Yamanashi Prefecture. Her mother, Tomoko Ogura (38), visited Yamanashi Prefecture on September 20, the day before the disappearance, and distributed leaflets. This reporter, who covered the event, was struck by Tomoko’s determination.
Before noon on September 20, Tomoko visited the campsite and started handing out flyers to users. After that, she moved to the nearby “Michi no Eki Doshi” (Roadside Station) and resumed handing out flyers before 3 p.m.
“It’s been two years since he went missing. It’s been two years since she went missing, so if there is a child who looks like her, please let us know.
Many people stopped to pick up the flyers. In the harsh sunshine after the typhoon, Tomoko continued to hand out flyers from before 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. when the roadside station closed, hardly taking a break.
This magazine interviewed Tomoko during the time she spent on the road between leaflet distribution. What caught our attention was the stuffed dog she was holding in her hand.
“I brought this stuffed animal with me today because Misaki took good care of it and carried it around with her all the time. I want to give it to her when I find her. Since I was always with her, I brought it as a good luck charm to connect Misaki and me. I bring it with me most of the time when I come to Yamanashi and when I work in other places.
On this day, Tomoko had prepared 3,000 flyers.
“On this day, Tomoko had prepared 3,000 flyers, which she planned to distribute in two days. Since the emergency declaration and priority measures to prevent the spread of the disease have been issued, it has become more difficult for me to travel outside of the prefecture, so I have been coming to Yamanashi less often. Since the state of emergency is still in effect, I have refrained from handing out flyers to many people on the streets when the infection situation is severe.
The posters and flyers have been redesigned.
The posters and flyers have been redesigned. “It’s been two years and my hair has grown this long, so if Misaki hasn’t cut her hair, it must have grown a lot. The previous posters were mainly pictures of me with short hair. So I hope you can see how much the atmosphere changes when I have long hair. The photos (on the new posters and flyers) were taken before and after I had my hair cut at a hair salon a few days before I went camping.
For now, we just hope we can get some good information.
“Most of the people who send me information put a note saying, ‘I may be wrong. But we don’t know which information is wrong and which is right, so even if we are not sure, we believe that if you contact us right away, we will be able to find some clues. Sometimes we receive the information months later because we are troubled, and then we can’t track it with security cameras. So, please don’t hesitate to send us your information.
What does Tomoko think of the two years that have passed?
“It’s been two years since I found out. As a mother, I did what I could with my family every day, so I spent each day without Misaki, and two years have passed. I also work (as a trimmer) about two to three days a week. Because my eldest daughter (Misaki’s older sister, a sixth grader) goes to school in good health, I am able to work at that time. Working is necessary for me to make a living and also to continue my activities to find Misaki.”
Finally, he called out.
“If someone has taken Misaki, I want to tell everyone in Yamanashi Prefecture as well as the rest of the country that they should be concerned, because it’s been two years and Misaki could be anywhere.”
The Yamanashi Prefectural Police has received more than 4,100 tips. The Yamanashi Prefectural Police has received more than 4,100 tips, but has yet to receive any convincing information leading to the discovery of Misaki.
I hope that one day Tomoko’s wish will come true.
Photo： Shinji Hamasaki